Bank scam Australia: NAB bank teller saves couple from $40k scam

A Tasmanian couple have been saved from losing thousands of dollars after a bank teller noticed major “alarm bells” from an online investment scam.

The couple had attended the National Australia Bank branch in Rosny, Hobart,

after their account was blocked during an attempt to transfer $40,000 to an ‘online investment firm’ in Perth.

The payment was the first of two instalments which the pair were set to hand over to the firm.

But NAB Customer Advisor Erin Bugg quickly became suspicious after she heard the firm was promising a 12 per cent return on their term deposit and a guaranteed payout if they went bust.

“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,” Ms Bugg said in a statement.

“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.”

While the couple were convinced they weren’t being scammed, Ms Bugg decided to look into the matter further and found a website and news article about the firm.

However, when she looked into the rates they were offering, it was confirmed the firm “was literally too good to be true”.

“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things. They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone,” explained Ms Bugg.

She said further alarm bells started ringing when the wife mentioned a man from the firm kept ringing her to thank her for the investment and encourage her to open the account.

The couple then rang the scammers in front of Ms Bugg to convince her it was real.

“I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam’,’” Ms Bugg said.

NAB’s fraud team then informed Ms Bugg that the firm had a bank account at another bank and advised the couple to speak to the bank and find out if it was legitimate.

A few hours later, the couple called Ms Bugg and explained her suspicions were correct.

The other bank had confirmed the account was not connected to the investment firm and suggested they do not transfer any money.

“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed,” said Ms Bugg.

The couple would have joined thousands of other Aussies who have fallen victim to investment scams in recent months.

Aussies lose more money to investment scams than any other scams, with Scamwatch receiving over 7,000 reports of investment scams in 2023.

Collectively, they’ve cost Aussies over $275 million.

Scamwatch recommends looking out for investment scam red flags including over-the-top promises on big returns, high-pressure tactics designed to rush you to act and any fake news stories that claim a celebrity recommends the scheme.

“Scammers use convincing marketing and new technology to make their investment sound too good to miss,” their website reads.

“They promise you big payouts with little or no risk. They often use pressure tactics to get you to act fast, so they can steal your money.”

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